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Harry Potter party? Help for muggles

(ran SP, NP editions)

What's worse than fighting off a boogery 12-foot mountain troll on Halloween?

For some muggle moms and dads (folks without an ounce of wizarding wit), it's the thought of staging a truly magical Harry Potter party in their own home.

"I think there are so many parents who are scared to death to have 10 kids standing in their living room waiting to be entertained," says Mary Ann Bross, co-owner of www.thepartyworks.com, an online theme party planning service that sells licensed party ware.

Planning a Harry Potter-themed birthday party or a party to celebrate the much-anticipated release of Warner Bros.' Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone movie on Friday doesn't necessarily require a cauldron of special effects.

"You can take all the traditional games," Bross says. "Just change the words around, and the kids are delighted."

Here's a Potter-appropriate menu dreamed up by Larry Wheeler of the Fairmont Hotel in Kansas City, Mo. Wheeler has orchestrated plenty of parties in his career, including a lavish Alice in Wonderland theme party at the hotel for Easter brunch, an extravaganza that wowed parents as much as it did kids.

Set out the golden plates and goblets _ paper or plastic, available at stores that sell party ware _ and you're ready to dine in the Great Hall, Hogwarts style.

At a Harry Potter party, "pumpkin anything" is sure to be a winner. Wheeler suggests pumpkin bread or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches cut in the shape of a pumpkin. Or you can opt for pumpkin juice (any orange-colored beverage, including orange soda pop, citrus drinks or even carrot juice with a bit of sugar would work). "As long as you label it pumpkin juice, it fits," he said.

We also found a recipe for Pumpkin Milkshakes on the Internet that we've included here.

For Hagrid's Hors D'oeuvres, serve a muggle version of edible dragon's eggs: Hard-cook eggs. Peel and dye them black and purple with drops of food coloring or soak them in beet juice or any other food-safe dye. (Be sure to let the eggs dry before the kids handle them, and beware: Their mouths will become as purple as if they've been sucking on a lollipop.)

Instead of those same old sloppy Joes, cut skirt steak into strips and serve Worms on a Bun. Pair it with an Every Flavor Legume Salad dressed with a slightly sweet vinaigrette.

For dessert, label stoneware ramekins filled with gummy worms and sprinkles with labels such as werewolf hair and bat's ears, then invite the partygoers to create their own Snape Sundaes in Potions Class.

Cockroach Clusters

2 ounces chocolate chips

1 cup raisins

2 cups thin pretzel sticks, broken into 1-inch pieces

Place chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high power for 2 minutes; stir. Continue microwaving in 15-second increments until chocolate is almost melted. Remove from microwave. Stir in raisins and pretzels. Drop mixture by tablespoons onto waxed paper. Let stand until firm. Makes 35 pieces.

Harry Potter Pumpkin Milkshake

1 frozen peeled banana, cut into pieces

3 tablespoons orange juice concentrate

3 tablespoons pumpkin puree

1 scoop vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt

cup water

Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor and mix until smooth. Makes 2 servings.

Source: family.com.

Diagon Alley Magic Pretzel Wands

1 16-ounce can prepared frosting of your choice, or use vanilla and tint in batches with food coloring

12 rod-shaped pretzels

Sprinkles in the design of your choice

Using a butter knife, frost the top three-quarters of a pretzel rod with frosting. Roll in colored sprinkles, such as stars and moons. Place pretzel wand on waxed paper to set. Makes 12 servings.

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